Sequels. Some like them, and some hate them. However, there are things that the developers can do. In fact, I think there are about five main things that they can do in my mind. So, without further ado, I present my 5 things that can be done to make a sequel good, and not just fall on it’s face.
Step 1: Add Stuff.
It might seem obvious, but many games seem to think that minimalism is the way they should go. But if you are making a sequel, then add things in. If it’s a racing game, then add more cars. An action game, add more maps and guns. It’s not hard. The whole point of a sequel is to make a better game, whilst keeping it related to the original game. Games like Saints Row 2, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Pokemon Gold/Silver all added things in, and are the superior to the original games. Whilst games like Crackdown 2 and No More Heroes 2 took stuff out and are worse than the original game. There is some correlation between the two.
Step 2: Improve the Gameplay.
This one isn’t as obvious as the first step, but it’s probably just as key. In fact I have one example for you. Mass Effect 1 & 2. In Mass Effect 1, the game is an RPG/Shooter, which whilst working was rather infuriating. Mass Effect 2, streamlined it all. It took what was an pretty damn good game, into one of the better games of all time. You see, by changing the gameplay to more of a shooter, it allowed them to fiddle with the RPG elements without it changing the core element of the gameplay. Another example I can give you is Bioshock 1 & 2. In Bioshock 1, the core gameplay was excellent and didn’t really need to be changed. Yet, in Bioshock 2, they changed it. It didn’t need changing, and as such it detracted from the game.
If you are making a sequel in the traditional way, then you need to further the story. The example I’ll give you for this one, are the two Metal Gear Solid sequels, Sons Of Liberty and Snake Eater. Each one move the story forwards in different ways. Sons Of Liberty shows you the story of Solid Snake, by making you see him from a different angle. You playing as someone who is on their first mission, and meeting up with Snake. You end up seeing why he does this, his relationship with other people and in the end, his own personal philosophy. In Snake Eater, you see the story of the Metal Gear, and the person who shaped Snake’s life. These pieces of the story are needed at this point, and Kojima realized it, after beginning the story with the Original MGS, and continuing Snake’s story in Sons Of Liberty. You learn about the beginning of the Metal Gear program, and what will eventually lead to the beginning of the original MGS. You learn what you need to, and find certain things out which help to explain things you have seen in the previous two games.
Step 4: Change it Up
It’s hard to do, but when continuing a series, then you need to keep it fresh. Bring in new faces, or move other characters to the front. Change the art style. Or simply move where the game takes place. One of my personal favourite games does that rather well. Jak II: Renegade. It changes the location, time period and does something rather more drastic. It gives the main character a voice. Now, in time where we are surrounded by silent protagonists, giving one a voice is a risky option. We have spent the first game with the main character not speaking, and have given them a voice ourselves. So, when we first hear Jak speak, we are taken aback, which helps us with the story. We are flung from the primitive setting of the first game, into a technologically advanced future world. The location is another improvement, we spend the first part of the game wandering around the world, trying to figure out what is going on. By changing these around, we are treated to one of the finest games of the last generation.
Step 5: Have a Clear Name.
It might sound like a minor quibble. But many people I know get confused by games like Wolfenstein, seeing as it’s the name of the most recent one, and the first one. It’s the same with Mortal Kombat. If you can’t give it a number, at least give it a second name. It helps to differentiate between the games, it also gives some sense of progression. If you really want to keep the same name, and not spoil your box with numbers. You can always use roman numerals, or a place name or maybe just a random place name.
I thank you for reading this, and that you have enjoyed what I’ve got to say on the matter. So why don’t you e-mail me what you think.